Professor Layton: Gaming’s Geekiest Hero?

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chris-littlechild - May 1, 2012

Hershel Layton, renowned gentleman and all-round foppish top hat wearer, is one of Nintendo's biggest recent successes. Quite disconcerting, really, when you consider that the underlying concept is as seemingly enjoyable as a violent mega-hot chili sauce enema.

The Professor is an archaeologist, albeit one you're unlikely to ever find excavating dinosaur turds in the desert. (Video game stars often pay no mind to their day jobs. Where's Mario when what actually appears to be a dinosaur dump is blocking your toilet? Not diving in there with a plunger, you can bet your balls on that. The best you'll get is his answerphone message, "My apologies, I can't shovel your shit today. I'm trying to get Peach to show me her boobs. Still. One of these days, I'll just leave that humongous lizard bastard to have his wicked way with her. They'd better be damn good when she gets them out. My interest is rapidly waning, to be frank." Before signing off with one of his patented moronic woohoos. We're then left slack-jawed with wonderment that someone with facial hair so utterly, soul-crushing shit can actually be real.) If you'll excuse the hefty digression, an oddly disproportionate amount of his office hours are whiled away with logic puzzles. Layton's quite the lazy-ass when it comes to actually being useful at the job he's payed for, but he can tackle a whole spectrum of canny conundrums with ease. Sure, he got the short, shit-encrusted end of the stick when it comes to talents, but this nerdiness has positively made him the stuff of Arthurian legend in the fictional world of developer Level-5.

Each of the games in the series begin with the same premise. Layton receives a letter from a rabid fan (who may or may not have rabies), containing within a problem of such balls-out insanity that nobody else could ever perceive of handling it. Our man hurries to meet the stricken unfortunate, in what is surely the most laughably dire car ever made. (It can fly, I'll concede. Alas, it looks so ridiculous while doing so that the positive, perhaps it's not a heap of crap effect of this is instantly negated, Like pissing on a candle.) You progress through the story by journeying across the environments and talking with the eclectic cast of utterly nuts locals. By so doing, you eventually unravel a plot that's as bizarre as it is convoluted. Almost every one of the crazies you meet will have a brainteaser of some form or another for you. Some mathematical, some pure logic, some pure wtf absolutely no logic at all. It's such a revelation to find a hero approaching a dilemma this way. You'll aid Layton in endeavours of pure lunacy, ranging from discovering how the hell did that guy write to me from ten years in the future? to am I crazy, or did that castle just grow out of the goddamn ground like a brick-based magic beanstalk with a huge angry bastard at the top? Layton, I'd say, provides the very tonic gaming needed. Less problems solved by fantastical futuristic weaponry, and more solved by the power of your actual brain.

I'd definitely say that hero is the word. He exudes the sense of quintessential Englishman like a musty smell, ("What's that you say? A burglar has broken into the house, stolen everything of value, and is now beating you to death? Good gracious. That's simply not proper. I shall finish my cup of tea and then proceed to give him a jolly good kick in the testicles.") but he's rather more amazing than he appears. The impromptu swordfight with that pensioner was a little embarrassing, and he dresses like that to boot. Let's not forget though, this is the man who made a perfectly functioning helicopter from half a barrel and a ceiling fan. The fan was broken, which should provide all you need to know about this amazing top-hatted MacGyver.

Take a look at some madness from the series below (Although viewer discretion is advised if you're offended by shockingly bad British accents):

Article by Chris Littlechild

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